I sat down to play my first game of Star Wars Rebellion with my wife, Jess, last night.
Second, there is a military aspect to the game and Jess doesn't always like military games. Here the Empire has MUCH superior military might and has more luxury to pick and choose their battles. In games with a military/conflict aspect she prefers factions that have stronger military (Always buying the biggest guns for her ships in Eclipse, Usually being our monster hunter in Edritch Horror, etc.) or a faction that can control when and where to fight (Playing the Bene Gesserit in Dune, Controlling and turtling in Australia in any Risk based game, etc.).
However, at the last moment I decided to switch sides and let her play the Rebellion. It wasn't her preferred playstyle, but she's more familiar with the Rebellion heroes than the Empire ones and wouldn't know Ozzel from Piett.
I was worried, however, because she cursed in this game. She cursed a LOT. Early in the game, when Vader captured Mon Motha and I crippled her diplomacy to sway planets to the Rebellion, she cursed. When I interrogated Mon Motha and got to see her hand of objective cards, she cursed. Luke soon rescued her, but the damage was done.
This was also earlier in the game, when Jess was still finding her footing and the Rebellion starts FAR behind the Empire in strength and power and systems under their control.
She sent wave after wave of X-Wings, Y-Wings, and Corellian Corvettes at my Death Star, but it was well protected by half a dozen Tie Fighters and a Star Destroyer. The Death Star cannot be destroyed by conventional means, so I knew she had something up her sleeve. But after each defeat, she cursed. Soon it was just the Star Destroyer and the Death Star, but I had diminished her supply of capital ships and the fighters she had left didn't have much chance of taking down the Star Destroyer, especially while a fully functional Death Star was shooting at them.
Once most of her ships were gone, I decided to use the Death Star finally to weaken her ability to produce more ships. I moved it to Kessel (which was under her control) and blew it up. That display of power caused Nal Hutta to renounce their Rebellion ties in one move, I vastly reduced the building power of the Rebellion. Not only did she curse, but she also said, "I hate you. I'm serious. I really, really hate you."
So, I started to worry that she wasn't enjoying out experience. She was playing out of her normal element and there was a lot of tension on her as I rolled out and subjugated system after system.
However, through this, she was also finding her footing. Luke became a Jedi and became really annoying as he was able to perform a lot on the board.
She moved Han Solo into a system to undertake a mission, but I was ready for her and Boba Fett fittingly moved in to capture him. The next turn she sent in Obi Wan to rescue Han, but I was ready for her and moved Vader in to capture Obi Wan even as she rescued Han Solo. However, she was able to play a card to sacrifice Obi Wan (to Vader, no less), in a move that gave her her first point in Reputation. The game ends with a timer--if the Empire has not destroyed the Rebel Base at the end of the timer, the Rebellion wins and any Reputation gained by the Rebellion moves the timer forward by one turn.
After another turn or two, she suddenly gained three Reputation in the course of two turns by pulling off a series of quick objectives which spread her out, but hastened the timer.
We came down to the last turn. I had to destroy the base this turn or else I'd lose. I had narrowed the location of her base down to five possible spots: Ilum, Dantooine, Yavin, Geonosis, or Utapau. I also had fleets adjacent to four of those systems. My second Death Star was outside of Utapau and could destroy it on my turn. I had huge landing forces just outside of Ilum and Geonosis. I didn't have as strong of a force outside of Yavin, but we've all seen A New Hope. Who'd go and hide their Rebel Base on Yavin? It's such a cliché. But Dantooine was my biggest worry. I didn't have anything near enough to it.
My first action was to undertake a mission to send out probe droids to rule out random planets that did NOT have the base. I got to draw one card. It was Dantooine! I had four leaders left to move my four forces. I could hit each of the four remaining systems with my military.
Then Jess went. She debated whether or not she should take the action, but said, "What the hell." She moved three X-Wings to go up against my Death Star with the Star Destroyer. Much hardier forces fell before these two. I could sent a Leader to the system to reinforce my strength there are draw battle cards to play, but if I did that, I would be one leader short of hitting the four systems I needed to.
So, like Grand Moff Tarkin, I thought that there was nothing to worry about.
Three X-Wings attacked and did 2 out of the 4 damage needed on my Star Destroyer. Now to realize the chances of this, she rolled 3 dice. Each die only had a 1 in 6 chance of doing the right kind of damage to the Star Destroyer. She shouldn't have done that amount of damage.
I rolled a ton of dice against her. My Star Destroyer and Death Star are better at fighting capital ships, but I had enough dice to get some successes.
I got none. Zero successes. And without a leader present, I didn't have any cards to bolster my results.
Second round of combat and she got all misses. I scored two hits. However, she had the tactics cards in hand to block those hits, leaving her unscathed.
The next round of combat and she got two more hits. My Star Destroyer was destroyed and she gleefully played an Objective Card which tasked her with destroying a Star Destroyer, giving her 1 more Reputation immediately and ending the game before I could explore those last four systems.
I found out afterward that her base was on Yavin. Out of all of the systems, that one I was least likely to win with. She probably would have survived my assault on her base, but I'm glad that if she got the win, it was in a battle involving the Death Star at the zero hour.
Jess liked the game. She REALLY liked the game. She said it was tense and frustrating the whole time, but in just the right ways. I thought that a 4 hour game would be a tough sell on her, but she raved about how much fun she had afterward.
I really enjoyed it as well. We both started slow as we were learning our cards and what we could do, but the game is amazing. I was a little leery as I am often let down by hype, but this one deserves it.